Flying Seraph
Clive Pompous-Arse Is Writing A Lot Of Today's Copy Lines
“ I don’t like advertising that looks like advertising. I like advertising that looks like life. ”
—    The quote could just as easily be: ‘I like advertising that sounds like life’.
That’s the point. That’s what we seem to be losing. And that’s what you need to insist on having if you want to develop sticky ideas that are meaningful, enter the culture, and are differentiating.Let me start with a story. I’m sure Sharon Howard won’t mind me telling you.She was the ‘baby’ copywriter at JWT when I joined to work on Kellogg. And she had written one of the country’s favourite end-lines for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes: ‘The simple things in life are often the best’.It ran for years and years. It was proven and re-proven – year-in and year-out – in the advertising. It resonated with the nation. Largely because the brand spoke to people in their terms.You could say the same for a wide range of great end-lines (and headlines):‘Have a break. Have a Kit Kat.’‘Australians wouldn’t give a XXXX for anything else’‘Dynamite against germs’ – Listerine‘Every little helps’ – Tesco

‘The Fresh Food people’ – Woolworths

‘The cream of Manchester’ – Boddingtons

‘Dirt is good’ – Omo

‘Let’s nibble Nobbies nuts’ – Nobbies Nuts (naughty Palace)

They sound like life. They’re easy to remember. They’re easy to say. Without sounding like a pompous ass. They’re rich in meaning. They readily spawn a wide variety of advertising ideas that keep proving the philosophy or claim in the line.

So how in the heck have we got to advertising that sounds so much like advertising? Like planners trying to impress planners? Or writers competing with writers? Lines that sound impressive but fail to communicate?

Can somebody please explain to real people what the following pompous/pretentious/inane/weird lines actually mean? Why they’ll catch on? How they readily speak to System 1 etc.?

‘Overload your senses’ – a Sydney shopping mall – perhaps they sell bungee jumps there?

‘Excite your senses’ – suspiciously like a shopping mall but for Tetley Tea (really?)

‘The future. Together. Now’ – an AXA insurance gem

‘Our force is your energy’ – Olivetti

Then we have my pet hate – those that try to tell people how to respond:

‘I’m lovin’ it’ – Peter Bush was right to resist it when Maccas imposed it.

‘Love that car’ – Mitsubishi, a few years ago

And – god bless – the sheer joy of unintended meaning:

Stilwell Ford: ‘We put people in front of cars’

Great lines become incredibly valuable assets. They encapsulate the entire meaning of the brand. They act as short-cut or icon, holding a load of emotions and associations. They help us access meaning in memory – almost like an App for your brain.

Let’s pull out the truly great lines. Laugh at what we’ve done recently. And then overtrain on truly good advertising and sparkling copy.

But more than anything, let’s make them look and sound like life – not a signal to switch off, or a meaningless nonsense that passes people by.

*Please share the loopy, the contrived and the inane and help raise the bar @MarkSareff.

Follow Mark Sareff’s series here.

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